Can the Celtics repeat their 2012 playoff success with another Game 2 win in Atlanta?

The boys in green have been here before.

Sort of.

Following a 102-101 Game 1 loss to the Hawks Saturday night, news was revealed the next day that the Celtics will likely be without Avery Bradley suffering from a hamstring injury for the remainder of the series.

Down a game in the series, Boston will walk into Philips Arena for Game 2 without a key starter in the backcourt. Sound familiar?

Four years ago, Boston found themselves in a similar position against these same Hawks. With seconds remaining in the end of a 83-74 series opening defeat, all-star point guard Rajon Rondo was ejected after chest-bumping official Marc Davis, earning himself a one-game suspension.

The question everyone is asking today is how will the Celtics respond? Who will step up?

In 2012, you couldn't have hoped for anyone better to step up than former captain and Celtics legend Paul Pierce. In was what arguably his last virtuoso performance in a Celtics uniform, the then 34-year-old Pierce dropped 36 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists and one Tim Tebow impression in 44 minutes played in an 87-80 Celtics Game 2 victory.

With the home-court advantage now in their hands, Boston finished off Atlanta in six games.
The bad news in 2016 is that Paul Pierce is no longer walking through the door. If he did, he'd be in a Clippers uniform. This is far from the only difference between the two Celtics teams.

This year's version isn't stacked with veterans and unless the careers of Tyler Zeller, Jordan Mickey, and Jonas Jerebko take a drastic turn, it likely won't have three future hall of famers either.

The only player remaining from the 2012 team so happens to be the player who's hamstring popped in Game 1.

Meanwhile, the 2012 team averaged only 86.8 points per game while holding Atlanta to 82.2 over the course of their six game series. Considering that these two teams ranked in the top eight in pace this season, hard to believe they will playing many games in the eighties.

But the one thing that hasn't change is that opponents walk into Philips Arena undaunted. Atlanta is just 9-6 at home in the postseason since 2013.

To some, Bradley's absence may have decided the outcome of this series, but who knows. If last night's Dallas victory over Oklahoma City is any indication, for at least one game, we shouldn't be surprised by the unexpected.

Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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